Strootman saves PSV from blemishes
EINDHOVEN, Netherlands ● Kevin Strootman scored twice as PSV Eindhoven came from 2-0 down to beat Willem II at the Philips Stadion as their Eredivisie title rivals faltered.
While Ajax and FC Twente were held to draws, PSV dug themselves out of a hole in the final quarter of their match.
Jens Podevijn and Niek Vossebelt sensationally fired the visitors into a 2-0 lead in the first 24 minutes and PSV boss Dick Advocaat responded by pitching an extra striker, youngster Jurgen Locadia, into action in place of holding midfielder Orlando Engelaar.
The hosts still had to wait until the 68th minute for a way back into the game, which came when a corner was half-cleared and Strootman, fresh from captaining Holland for the first time against Turkey and Romania, found the net to cut the deficit to a single goal.
Tim Matavz went close to an equaliser before Strootman did the honours in the 79th minute with an angled finish from the edge of the box, before Matavz was played in behind the defence to score the winner three minutes later.
Ajax wasted a 2-0 and 3-1 lead as they were pegged back to draw 3-3 away to Heracles.
The Amsterdam giants took a 10th-minute lead when Ben Rienstra diverted Lasse Schone’s cross into his own goal and Schone himself doubled the lead in the 25th minute after being sent through by Siem de Jong.
Heracles defender Mike te Wierik pulled a goal back from close range but newly capped Sweden international Tobias Sana restored the reigning champions’ lead a minute later with a cool finish after an acrobatic initial effort was cleared off the line.
But Thomas Bruns pulled it back to 3-2 with 10 minutes remaining and, after Ajax substitute Ryan Babel had a goal harshly disallowed for offside, Luis Pedro grabbed an injury-time equaliser with a fierce low shot.
Twente also led a lead slip away as they drew 1-1 away to Roda JC in Kerkrade.
Defender Douglas’ powerful header was Twente’s best effort of the first half while at the other end, keeper Nikolay Mihailov twice denied Sanharib Malki.
Twente’s Mitchell Donald had to clear Wout Brama’s shot off the line before Luc Castaignos broke the deadlock for the visitors. Malki headed Dusan Tadic’s free-kick against the frame of his own goal and Castaignos reacted quickest to tuck away the loose ball.
But Roda quickly responded and Amin Affane’s left-wing cross was missed by Mihailov and his defence, allowing the unmarked Guus Huppert to level the scores.
Vitesse Arnhem took advantage to move just a point behind Twente at the summit, and level on points with PSV, courtesy of a 3-0 win at NAC Breda.
Theo Janssen went close to an opener before Jonathan Reis made the breakthrough in the 32nd minute, firing in via the underside of the bar after good work by Wilfried Bony and Marco van Ginkel to set up the chance.
Bony then took centre stage in the second half, tapping home the second after Patrick van Aanholt was denied by keeper Jelle ten Rouwelaar and then beating Ten Rouwelaar at his near post to make it three.
Ryan Koolwijk scored twice in three minutes as NEC Nijmegen won 2-0 away to AZ Alkmaar.
The midfielder swung a 15th-minute free-kick directly into the net, surprising keeper Esteban Alvarado, and then tucked a penalty into the top corner after Nick Viergever brought down Leroy George.